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January 6, 2018
Q. You talked about this week that you like to learn and stuff. Did you vote in the presidential election in 2016?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'm not here to talk about politics and whatnot. If I did or not, that's not really the issue.
Q. (Indiscernible) President Trump is supposedly attending the game --
ROQUAN SMITH: That's great and all to have the president come to the game. But I'm not focused on like politics or anything like that.
Q. The Alabama-Tennessee game, you were in Tuscaloosa for that game. What was your thoughts (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I was going to see a buddy, just enjoying time, seeing a friend. That was about it.
Q. Did you go into the game?
ROQUAN SMITH: I was just around, just tailgating with him.
Q. What was that experience?
ROQUAN SMITH: It was pretty nice over there. No that wasn't my first time actually being over there for a game but I thought it was pretty nice.
Q. Were the Alabama fans nice?
ROQUAN SMITH: I didn't really have any encounters with any.
Q. How do you compare Baker Mayfield with Jalen Hurts?
ROQUAN SMITH: They're two different quarterbacks. I would say they're two different in their own right. I was thinking Hurts is a better runner for sure.
Q. What are some of the things that you have to prepare for (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: If everything fails how he'll pull it down, he'll run the ball. So, but he keep his eyes down the field as well to make plays. But if he pull it down and run it, he's like a running back with the ball in his hands.
Q. There's a lot of things you have to keep an eye on?
ROQUAN SMITH: You definitely have to keep an eye on him and try to force to keep the guy in the pocket. So definitely be big for our defense.
Q. You had a really emotional game last week with Oklahoma. A lot of emotions. How do you keep your emotions in check now against Alabama?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just the momentum we finished that game with, just carrying it over to this game. And we just have to keep the main thing the main thing by focussing on Alabama, do whatever it takes to beat those guys.
Q. (Question about All-Americans) how special would a defensive game like this be for you?
ROQUAN SMITH: More so a win would mean a lot more for me. I'm not caught up in the individual accolades and whatnot. But just winning this game would be like more than any award I could ever receive.
Q. What's (indiscernible) all around emotional --
ROQUAN SMITH: Do whatever it takes to play my best game, for my teammates to play their best game. I'm down to do that and willing to give up anything for that.
Q. Any shoutout for guys back in Macon?
ROQUAN SMITH: Macon County, shoutout to everyone there. Pretty awesome people. So everyone hello.
ROQUAN SMITH: I remember actually I just played special teams my freshman year. So just being on the special teams. I do remember not having a defensive snap the entire game. But besides that, besides being rainy and whatnot, we obviously know the outcome of that game. So that's about it.
Q. Did any of that carry over into this --
ROQUAN SMITH: No, that was like two years ago. So like can't be really caught up in that. This is a totally new year, totally new team. So I feel like it's definitely something different.
Q. How would you describe SEC football to those that might not be familiar?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'd say it's a grind, week in and week out. You're going to play any team that has a chance to beat you. If you don't come ready to play, then you probably could lose that week.
Q. Is the style of play any different than anywhere else in the country?
ROQUAN SMITH: Well, I would like to say we're more physical than teams in other places in the country, because like how we like run the ball, stop the run here in the SEC and you have to be very physical.
Q. You were telling me at the Rose Bowl it hit you the magnitude of the game (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. You know it's very exciting you know just being in this position that we're in and I'm just grateful for it. And like the feeling definitely haven't sunk in yet but just knowing and thinking about the opportunity at hand is pretty awesome.
Q. Feel like a whirlwind? Rose Bowl (inaudible) or does it feel like yesterday or a month --
ROQUAN SMITH: No it seemed like exactly what it was, like a week ago or couple days ago. But we moved past that right now more so focused on Alabama right now.
Q. What's it like getting ready for Alabama?
ROQUAN SMITH: They're a physical team. They love to run the ball down here. And they have a great quarterback and they have a nice threat at receiver on the outside and actually good running back group.
Q. Fill in the blank -- Georgia wins the national championship because --
ROQUAN SMITH: It's going to come down to being more physical.
Q. Tell me about thoughts on Jalen Hurts, what you've seen on him (inaudible), the things that he did do to (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely he can create some problems for you, defense and whatnot. Actually, you know, everything fails and whatnot he can pull the ball down and run it. And once he like get out of the pocket he's like a running back with the ball in his hands. So we'll definitely have to lay a hat on him and try to force, keep the guy in the pocket. And also when he get out of the pocket, he keep his eyes down field, tries to make plays down field.
Q. Looking at running backs, (indiscernible) any one stand out to you (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: They have a stable of running backs. I feel like they have some really good running backs. In the SEC that's what you have to have, great running backs and whatnot. And I definitely feel like they have those.
Q. Has it been tough to keep a normal week? I know you're going back after this, but has it been tough?
ROQUAN SMITH: No, you just have to -- coaches tell us to keep the main thing the main thing. We just have to want it more. If you want it more you can't get sidetracked by anything -- just keep your focus and just stay on the course.
ROQUAN SMITH: It's like any other practice. We're not blowing this game out of proportion or anything like that. We just have to do what we've been doing all year, just play our best game.
Q. Going through last week, all the media stuff, has that helped you for this week and what can we expect --
ROQUAN SMITH: Somewhat, yeah, it was a little different last week with the media. Somewhat a little close to media -- no it's not as bad as media days. But it's pretty chill, though, it's not too bad.
Q. Are you getting tired of answering all the questions?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's all good. It's a part of it. You have to take it with it.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk to your aunt last week. Talk about the relationship with you and your aunt (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: She's a phenomenal lady. She's done a lot for me in my life and whatnot. And she's been there for me. And actually she's been every game this season. So that's pretty awesome.
Q. Being from Montezuma, are you going to have a lot of folks from home coming to support you here?
ROQUAN SMITH: I have a few people from Montezuma coming up, but I definitely have a lot of people tuning in from the whole Macon County area -- Montezuma, (indiscernible), all of that.
Q. Big stage, seems like you excelled on the big stage MVP both Rose Bowl and the SEC Championship. How do you continue to keep doing that?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just have to keep my focus. I can't really get sidetracked by anything and just my preparation and what my teammates, just having those guys take a lot off my plate, just with those guys, the help of those guys, my coaching staff it makes my job a whole lot easier.
Q. How does it feel to be on this stage (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's pretty amazing being in this position we're in. We grinded all year for this since last offseason in January -- day in, day out, winter conditioning, spring practices, summer training, fall camp and throughout the season. It's pretty special just to know everything that we've been through and whatnot to get to this point.
And this was a dream. But it was just one step at a time and one phase at a time. We're in the final phase and this is for all the marbles.
Q. People have been talking about the Alabama defense for years and how that's kind of the gold standard (inaudible). Is there almost something to try to prove here for you guys (indiscernible) pretty good defense?
ROQUAN SMITH: We're just going to play our brand of defense. We don't really get into all the hype and everything about this defense, this and that. We're just more so going to focus on what it's going to take for us to play our best game on defense.
Q. You guys talk all the time about focus and especially this week and (indiscernible). How do you maintain that focus, because human nature, it's easy to be reflected on that game?
ROQUAN SMITH: Absolutely right. But it's just we have to want this game more. This one here is for all the marbles, and the Rose Bowl is great and all, but for the Natty, it sounds a little different and it is different.
So all the guys have realized that and they know we have to do everything in our power and our preparation and everything to play our best to get this game.
Q. Last year Clemson had a lot of guys from South Carolina on their team, (indiscernible) star players. You guys are in the same case. Does it take on a little special meaning having that many guys from instate in this stage?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. You know, it's definitely big. A lot of guys just being from Georgia and whatnot will love to represent their state, their state school. So like going into any game you definitely are going to be like, yeah, I'm a Georgia boy or whatever.
But they have a lot of Georgia guys on their team over at Alabama, too. I'm sure those guys don't think about it that much, but it's a little special feeling.
Q. When you were growing up was there (inaudible) was it something that you were having --
ROQUAN SMITH: No, I used to always -- I had a few teams but I definitely used to watch the Bulldogs on Saturdays.
Q. When Coach Smart came in a few years ago did you think it was possible (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. I felt like we had talent here and whatnot and just coaches came in, instilled a lot of great values in us and whatnot and just taught us hard work. And not saying that guys did not know what it was, but just having that leader and the mentality that he have has been pretty awesome.
Q. What's been the difference between the way he handles things (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I can't really think back to that, but they're both great guys in their own right. I'm enjoying my time here with Coach Smart and whatnot.
Q. At what point did you see Jake as the guy at quarterback? Was there a moment or drive that you saw that you guys knew you had confidence in him as a quarterback?
ROQUAN SMITH: Yeah, he's proven that all year long, once he stepped in (inaudible) App State game, early on, first career college game and just after that, week in and week out, just continued to like just prove to you like this guy's pretty special.
Q. How does having the game so close to Athens impact your preparation? You're able to practice in Athens. How does that help especially in the long run?
ROQUAN SMITH: That's definitely big, just being able to while you're at home. So home is always good. But we're excited to be able to practice in Athens and whatnot and we're just going to take advantage of it. Nice indoor facility and whatnot. Our own meeting rooms and things like that.
Q. What's it like (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's pretty awesome just seeing a lot of devoted fans and everything come out to show us some support. So we're definitely grateful for that. But at the same time we have to keep the main thing the main thing.
Q. (Indiscernible) what is it to the guys coming off to play for the national championship at home, in their home state, in the stadium (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's very special to be able to play a game of this magnitude in our own state and then having our fan base not very far away -- which Alabama's fan base is not far as well. It's pretty awesome, and I'm sure the guys are really excited about it. And we're really grateful to be in this position that we're in.
Q. How hard is it for you to stay focused and not avoid all the distractions (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I just have to (inaudible) back down, like Coach always says, keep the main thing the main thing, not get sidetracked by everything, because things get in the way, the glitz and glamour. But you just gotta stay the course.
Q. Your Aunt Gloria is a big part of your life (inaudible) things that are difficult?
ROQUAN SMITH: Yeah, school's not really in right now, so she hasn't really said anything like lately. But I'm sure she'll be saying something here pretty soon.
Q. How difficult is it to prepare for a guy like Baker Mayfield versus a guy like Jalen Hurts?
ROQUAN SMITH: They're two phenomenal players and whatnot. But I would say this guy, Hurts, he's definitely a runner. So once he pulls the ball down from the pocket or whatever, he also keeps his eyes downfield. But once he gets out in the open field he's like a running back with the ball. We'll definitely have to try to keep that guy in check once he pull it down.
Q. They have some pretty big running backs. When they get in the open field they're hard to bring down. How do you guys keep them from busting the big (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just playing. Everyone doing their job and whatever it takes to do your job and not let those guys in the open field. But, yeah, I feel like if we do that we won't have that big of a problem.
Q. (Inaudible) maybe Alabama (inaudible). You see that?
ROQUAN SMITH: We don't think about anything like that. We're Georgia. We're not caught up in this, that. We are who we are. So we're not worried about anything else.
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely, I feel like they have great play calling. They want to establish the run early. And once they establish the run they'll want to hit you with the play-action shots and whatnot, try to get through the ball. And they have a great stable of running backs who I think can create some problems for a defense. But we're definitely excited for the opportunity.
ROQUAN SMITH: I think he's a phenomenal athlete and can create some problems for a defense. He also wants to get out of the pocket, you want to keep the guy in the pocket because once he gets out of the pocket he can really create some problems for you. And he's like another running back once he get out of the pocket with the ball in his hands.
ROQUAN SMITH: I have actually. They have a stable of running backs from 34, 9, 8, 22. They have a pretty good stable of running backs. We're definitely looking forward to it, and we think it will be a great challenge for our defense.
Q. What have you been looking at this week in terms of tape and what's coming Monday night?
ROQUAN SMITH: They're a great team, phenomenal team. Very physical at the point of attack, want to play stingy defense. And on the offensive side of the ball, they want to establish the run. And once they get that they want to hit you with some play-action shots.
Q. I know you won the SEC Championship, but did you think at one point in time you might see these guys?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. You hear a lot of things and whatnot. But it's pretty awesome, two SEC teams going at it for the national title. So we're definitely looking forward to it and we think it will be a great one.
Q. Before the season started, this had to be a (indiscernible) call that, hey, we can get to Atlanta right down the road, play for a national championship and win this thing for the first time since 1980?
ROQUAN SMITH: That was definitely the plan, but we had to take it one step at a time, keep our focus, keep our minds where our feet were. At the time it was just phase one, phase two, phase three, phase four. And we're in the final phase now and we're excited.
Q. After seeing Baker Mayfield last week what he can do with the (inaudible) tell us what you now see with Jalen Hurts?
ROQUAN SMITH: He definitely can create some problems for a defense downfield. We want to keep the guy in the pocket. If you can't keep the guy in the pocket he can definitely create some problems for you defense, because once he gets out of the pocket he's more like a running back.
Q. Got a little playoff beard going?
ROQUAN SMITH: Yeah, I have a little playoff beard going here. I've been growing it since the start of the Rose Bowl. So see how long it goes.
Q. Going to cut it after?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think I'm going to cut it after regardless. I may keep it for a little bit longer depending how I'm feeling.
Q. How do you feel about going back to Athens (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think it's great being able to practice on your home field, home turf and whatnot and being there with your teammates, own meeting room. I definitely think it's pretty good and we're excited to go back home and get some work in.
Q. UCF, (indiscernible) national championship. What are you guys playing for?
ROQUAN SMITH: It is what it is. You know, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I'll let them have that.
Q. (Question about Coach Smart and optimism on a national stage)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Coach has told us control what we can control and that was just taking everything one step at a time. And controlling our attitude, effort, each and every day coming to practice and meetings and everything like that, even school and everything. So it was just more so just a process, and I feel like if you respect the process in the way in which we did a lot of great things can happen for you.
Q. When you look at the second half (indiscernible) against Oklahoma, what was the difference in terms of success (inaudible) maybe the game plan, what led to the success there in the second half?
ROQUAN SMITH: We're not so more focused on what happened with the Sooners. We're just going to ride that momentum from the second half over into this game.
Q. How do you do that? How do you maintain the edge (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just have to come and play with passion and just play our brand of defense. And I feel like if we play to our standard, then a lot of great things can happen for us.
Q. When you look at Alabama (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: They're a very physical team. They try to kill you at the point of attack. They want to run the ball down your throat, they want to establish the run and then they want to hit you with some play-action shots.
Q. A lot of fans talk about your matchup and one-on-one with Jalen Hurst (inaudible). How do you view that matchup between what you might be doing and trying to chase down Jalen Hurst?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think he's a phenomenal athlete. They have a great team, but it's not about me and him because if it was just me and him that would be one-on-one football. It's 11 on 11 so it's 10 other guys on both sides of the ball. We're definitely looking forward to the opportunity as a whole from a defensive standpoint.
Q. How would you describe your relationship with Jeremy Pruitt and how much of an influence was he when you were first coming out of high school?
ROQUAN SMITH: Coach Pruitt, he's a great guy. He recruited me out of high school. I think he's a phenomenal guy, him and his wife, Miss Casey. I think they're great people.
Q. Think about him being a head coach at Tennessee. Does that blow your mind?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'm excited for him. Everyone has dreams, goals and inspirations in life, and I'm happy for him. He's actually being able to fulfill his dreams.
Q. How would you describe the Rose Bowl?
ROQUAN SMITH: Pretty awesome (inaudible).
Q. What was the tone like to leave L.A., be back in Athens, be there for a couple days and then and then get back here?
ROQUAN SMITH: That was definitely a challenge, but you have (inaudible). Looking forward to the process (inaudible).
Q. What is the most important thing that you guys must do defensively to win the national championship?
ROQUAN SMITH: (Inaudible).
Q. I like how blunt your answer is. Expound a bit.
ROQUAN SMITH: So we have to stop the run first because those guys will try to establish the run. And then we'll have to take away the shots they take downfield from their play-action pass game and whatnot. I feel like if we do that, stop the run and stop the play-action shot we'll have a great shot to win this game.
Q. Can you talk about (indiscernible) how big the (inaudible) the Rose Bowl, one to force the field goal and then those blocks in the second --
ROQUAN SMITH: You know, that was pretty awesome. But we're just more so focused on this game. We can't have any wasted energy on last week's game. So we're just focused on this game here at hand and just whatever it takes to get the job done to beat these guys, Alabama.
Q. The turnaround, the flight across the country, you had classes started Thursday and then here to Atlanta Friday night. Quick turnaround?
ROQUAN SMITH: Yeah, it's just part of the process. We're excited about it. We're not saying, this, that. We just have to take everything for what it is and we're definitely excited for the opportunity.
Q. Everybody talks about (inaudible) such a big back and Alabama, kind of like you guys, brings a bunch of running backs. Talk about the running game and stopping the run?
ROQUAN SMITH: I definitely think they have a stable of running backs. They're going to try to establish the run early for the most part. So I feel like if we try to stop that and make those guys one dimensional, I think we'll have a great shot.
Q. Is there any benefit to you guys playing a pretty big game in this stadium five weeks ago in the SEC Championship game? Any familiarities, anything like that?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's a field, at the end of the day it's a football field. We can't look at this as something special. So we're just looking forward to it -- it's the game, so it's versus two SEC opponents. So it should be pretty awesome.
Q. When the clock's at zero Georgia will win and you guys are the national champions if what?
ROQUAN SMITH: As far as I can only speak from the defensive side of the ball. We have to stop the run and stop the play-action shots. And I feel like if we do that and contain the quarterback we'll have a really good great shot.
Q. Could you possibly envision this game being a shootout like the Rose Bowl?
ROQUAN SMITH: No, I don't see that in my wildest mind, yeah.
Q. You didn't anticipate that last week either, right?
ROQUAN SMITH: No, I didn't. You never anticipate anything like that going into a game, you know, so you try to keep, stay the course and not really think about things like that. But I definitely don't see that happening in this game.
ROQUAN SMITH: I just don't see it. Just the style of ball we both play, we both play great defense and whatnot. And I just feel like it's not that type of game.
Q. How much do you love being in Athens? How great is Athens as a town?
ROQUAN SMITH: Man, it's phenomenal. Just the people there. The school itself and more so the downtown scenery with the different types of food. And just the people makes the town so special. And I enjoy it, can't really envision myself anywhere else. It's awesome.
Q. Let's talk about the food in Athens. You and your guys are going out to your favorite places to eat --
ROQUAN SMITH: I can't do that.
Q. Give a little pump.
ROQUAN SMITH: Yeah, but a couple of places I be at will get a little upset or something. There's many places I go to. So to name one or two that would be kind of short. We try out many different types of foods every week.
Q. What's the best meal (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Best meal at training table? I would probably say maybe the prime rib with the potatoes and mac and cheese, something along --
Q. Coach Smart is coming for dinner. What's the best dish your mom (indiscernible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Coach Smart. He would probably like some steak and potatoes, something like that.
Q. He wasn't too adventurous?
ROQUAN SMITH: I don't think so, for the most part.
Q. Who is the best cook in your family?
ROQUAN SMITH: Best cook in my family would probably be my great aunt.
ROQUAN SMITH: I would say anything soul food. She has a lot of -- some pretty awesome dishes soul food-wise.
ROQUAN SMITH: I just want both teams to do well. I would love for Gurley to have a great game, but I'd love for the Falcons to play great as well. I like a lot of guys on the team, like Deion Jones and whatnot. But definitely I want -- and I like Ogletree for the Rams. I'd love for both of those guys to do well.
Q. Favorite Kendrick Lamar song?
ROQUAN SMITH: My favorite Kendrick Lamar song. "Be Humble." (Laughter).
ROQUAN SMITH: We don't really think about it like that. All I remember I didn't play a defensive snap that game; I played special teams. I don't look at it from that standpoint, like revenge or anything like that.
It's a totally new year and it's definitely going to be a different outcome to the game. It's not going to be the same as it was the last game.
Q. Is Jalen at all like Baker, (indiscernible) in a variety of ways?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. The guy can create some problems for you defense. But we're looking forward to the challenge. He pulls the ball down, he's more so like a running back in the open field. But we think we're definitely ready for the challenge.
Q. You guys played in this stadium, not here but the Mercedes-Benz just a month ago. What's the fact that you've played there already?
ROQUAN SMITH: At the end of the day it's another football field. We have to look at it from the standpoint it's 100 yards, 100 yards in play. We just have to look at it from that standpoint. And you can't really blow it out of proportion. It's nice to be able to play in Atlanta, but it's close for Alabama as well. Not looking at that as an upper hand.
Q. Family and friends from Montezuma?
ROQUAN SMITH: I definitely have some people up from Montezuma, Macon County up for the game.
Q. You get to know Minkah Fitzpatrick (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I didn't like, not a close relationship. But, like, we introduced ourselves and had conversations and whatnot. I think he's a great guy.
Q. Have you seen him much as a player (inaudible) have you seen him much?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. I know -- I don't really watch, like, their defense and whatnot, play, but I've definitely seen that guy play and whatnot. I think he's a phenomenal athlete, can do a lot of things on the back end.
ROQUAN SMITH: You know, you hear stuff like that. But you try not to pay that much attention, because at the end of the day it's more so focused on what we have to do here as defense and not just more so like what I can do or him.
Q. How much does your role (inaudible) a guy (inaudible). How much does your role (inaudible) quarterback Jalen (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's definitely different. You know, just have to stop the run. They're going to try to establish the run. He can pull it down, zone read or just dropback pass when everything fails. Even though he keeps his eyes downfield, he can create some problems definitely in the run game. He's like a running back in the open field.
Q. What was the biggest adjustment you all had to make (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: We're not really focused on that. We're just going to ride that momentum from, the last game the last half of that game into today's game. We're not focused on things that happened in that game.
Q. Do you have any confidence at all; they were lighting you up in the first half?
ROQUAN SMITH: It is what it is. We're not focused on that, we're focused on this game here.
Q. I understand that you got a lot of young linebackers coming in after you, but is it true that (inaudible) LeCounte?
ROQUAN SMITH: I absolutely think that is true. So I think Richard LeCounte is a phenomenal linebacker. He's a three-down linebacker, can play the run, pass. He also can shift back to defensive back if you ever need him in your dime package or anything like that. I think it will be great for him. And Dick Butkus -- Richard LeCounte will be the next Butkus Award winner.
Q. As a leader, as a linebacker, how impressed have you been of just the overall growth of all the guys?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's definitely been great, just learning from a great guy and mentor Coach Schumann. I think he's a phenomenal guy, puts us in a lot of great position to be our best. So I feel like with the preparation he does and then like the way we prepare, he helps us. So I feel like it's a great combination.
Q. What's the scene like here at this place in Atlanta?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think it's pretty awesome just having the university very close by and then just like amazing fans just coming out and just hanging out. So I think it's pretty awesome. But that's not really going to dictate the game or anything like that. It's going to be more so in what we do on the field.
Q. You guys talk about the distractions?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. But you just have to control what you can control. And it's what we do on the field, our attitudes towards practice and our effort and everything like that. So it's not more so in what the fans do, but it's pretty awesome having those guys here and whatnot.
Q. What is their offense most like, a team you've already faced?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'd say they're very similar to, if I had to make a comparison, I would say they're very similar to Mississippi State in a way but with better running backs. And obviously receiver unit, you have a really good outside.
Q. What's it say about, not everyone has a special teams being as important as offense and defense, but for you to have some of your best players to play on special teams, and the importance you guys put on it and it can decide a game, how important is it?
ROQUAN SMITH: Special teams is very important. Coach, when they first got here, said if you play on special teams, you're considered a starter as well. Being that you play on special teams, it's great for the game because we know that definitely has an outcome on the game, because there's a lot of plays to be made in special teams, because if a team is lacking in that area, we're definitely going to try to attack those weaknesses.
Q. Do you feel like with preparation, meetings and practice in the middle, special teams, that it is as important?
ROQUAN SMITH: I would definitely think so. Well, I definitely know so because it's not like it's at the end of practice or anything, it's actually in the middle of practice just like every other thing. So Coach definitely put some value on it.
Q. What's it like from your perspective (inaudible) the Rose Bowl, and just see it come through, all the hard work you've put into special teams to really pick up?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's great. But we're not really focused on what happened in the Rose Bowl. It's great, the plays that we made there in special teams game. But it's pretty awesome to make a lot of special teams plays in this game as well.
Q. Biggest talker --
ROQUAN SMITH: Probably that guy, Bellamy, over there.
ROQUAN SMITH: He talks a good bit. But no, he definitely -- I wouldn't say it's nonstop, but he definitely can talk a little bit.
Q. In a good way?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely. He's never, like, just some crazy stuff. But he's definitely always chatting it up.
ROQUAN SMITH: I actually don't.
Q. Who was your favorite teacher, and what kind of impact did they have on your life?
ROQUAN SMITH: My favorite teacher, I would say I've had many great teachers, but if I just had to pick one, I really enjoyed my teacher, Miss Angela Trussle, fourth grade teacher. And then it was my fifth grade teacher, Deborah Green. Probably out of those two at the top. But they're both just still behind me from like an early start. I was into sports and everything like that.
They just always told me: You can do anything you ever want to do, and like just anything you put your mind to. And they just said, with your academics, keep taking your academics serious and everything else will take care of itself.
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about (inaudible) telling you what to watch out for?
ROQUAN SMITH: They definitely create some problems for your defense. We feel they want to establish the run early on. So they're definitely going to do that, come out and try to run the ball. We'll have to try to make those guys one-dimensional and whatnot. And then they like their play-action shots. So they're going to come off play action and try to get the ball deep down the field as well.
Q. (Inaudible) you all come together (inaudible) Davin and Lorenzo?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just the bond we have here with each other. And everything we've been through from last year all season conditioning around this time in January and throughout spring practice, summer conditioning and then fall camp. And then throughout the season, it's pretty crazy. But you know we worked our tails off to be in this position and we're definitely grateful for the opportunity.
Q. Does it make your job a little bit easier (inaudible) your job making sure (inaudible) know what each other is doing?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely makes my job a lot easier having great players around me like those guys. Definitely take a lot of pressure off me. But just having those guys there and everyone take care of their own business so I don't really have to do this like really get on any guys, just have to get the guys the plays and whatnot. And just make some little things here and there.
Q. (Question about Lorenzo and Davin).
ROQUAN SMITH: He actually did. He sat back a couple times last week. So that's just depending on the personnel that we get and the personnel that we're in.
Q. The Bulldogs take a lot of pride in shutting down the offense. Did it kind of hurt your pride a little bit (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: We're not focused on that. It is what it is, the outcome of that game. We have a W in the win column. So we're not focused on that anymore. We're more so focused on this week's game.
Q. Does that increase the motivation to go against Alabama?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's the national title game. So regardless of who it is, we're going to be pretty stoked about it. And we're jacked up. Definitely excited about it. It's a great team in Alabama. Definitely looking forward to the challenge.
Q. You look out there, see all the Georgia fans, what will you think?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's pretty awesome. We have a lot of devoted Georgia fans. Lifelong. And just seeing those guys come out like that, it's not surprising at all. But it's pretty awesome just seeing those guys here this early in the morning for like a media outlet.
Q. How much would it mean to not only win the national championship but to take down a program like Alabama and maybe start to create your own legacy?
ROQUAN SMITH: It will definitely be legendary, just winning the national title here. Georgia haven't won one since 1980. It will definitely be pretty special. Definitely looking forward to it. We think it will be definitely awesome if we could bring the national title back home.
ROQUAN SMITH: He definitely creates some problems for defense. But we're looking forward to the challenge. And we think it will be pretty awesome just going up against a dual threat like himself.
And when he pulled the ball down, he definitely can create some problems. And he's more so like a running back once he get into the open field.
Q. (Question about the receivers). What's your message?
ROQUAN SMITH: Everyone just has to do their job. At the end of the day, they're going to play action and take some shots. But I feel like we'll be prepared for it and it will be a great challenge for our defense.
ROQUAN SMITH: What I remember from the 2015 season I would say is I didn't play a defensive snap. It was rainy and wet and the outcome wasn't very good. So it is what it is.
Q. (Question about Coach Jeremy Pruitt).
ROQUAN SMITH: He's a great guy. I feel like I have a lot of respect for that guy. Recruited me here and whatnot. And I have a lot of respect for him and his wife, Miss Casey. I think they're phenomenal people. I'm happy for him that he's now the head coach at Tennessee.
ROQUAN SMITH: No, I didn't sense anything. And I'm not really focused on that. That's 2015, and this is, what, 2018 now. That's three years. So I'm not really thinking about that anymore.
Q. What are some of the things that you prepare mentally for?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just doing whatever, just doing my job. And that comes with film preparation and just doing everything the right way and doing whatever it takes to put all my players and myself in the right position to have a great outcome on the game.
Q. When you put on your headphones, what are the hot three songs you have, coming into Monday's game?
ROQUAN SMITH: Actually, I'm not that type of guy, like, just listen to hype music. So I'll just whatever is on Spotify, I'll just turn on one of the playlists and just hit shuffle whatever spins, that's what spins.
ROQUAN SMITH: I just have to keep the focus. I don't think many guys need a pep talk or anything like that. That's the national title game. If you really can't get hyped for this one, then I don't know why you're playing the game.
ROQUAN SMITH: Just keep the main thing the main thing. You never can be overprepared. So just keep preparing and do whatever it takes to put yourself in the best position, myself in the best position possible.
Q. What legacy are you (inaudible) for the guys that are here now?
ROQUAN SMITH: Relentless guy, a guy that never gives up, never gives in. In spite of adversity, never break. May bend or something like that, but just keep going the course and trust the process. And a guy they say, regardless what happens to him, he always did whatever it takes to get the job done.
Q. When Davin and Lorenzo decide to come back, what's the message sent to the entire team?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely awesome having those guys come back, who passed up NFL futures. I think it's pretty awesome. And they were some leaders on the team. So having those guys back, it's definitely a momentum boost for our team.
Q. How much does it set the tone for the program, a lot of younger guys?
ROQUAN SMITH: I think it's big time. Just even in the recruiting phase, just telling guys, guys passed up on the league and whatnot just to come back and finish out their senior year here at the university. So I think that speaks volumes. And I think those guys are pretty happy they did come back as well.
Q. The city of Atlanta, five seconds to answer this question: Being that this game is being played in downtown Atlanta, three famous attractions in downtown Atlanta?
ROQUAN SMITH: The Black History Museum.
Q. If single, three celebrities you'd want to date?
ROQUAN SMITH: Carrie Underwood. Miranda Lambert.
Q. Three things that scare you?
ROQUAN SMITH: Failure.
Q. Three Georgia Bulldogs in the NFL?
ROQUAN SMITH: Thomas Davis, Todd Gurley, Alec Ogletree.
Q. How much would it mean to you, essentially, to play in front of a hometown crowd to be able to get a win for all the fans that love you?
ROQUAN SMITH: Would be pretty amazing. Doing it in front of like the devoted Georgia fans, whatnot, being so close to Athens. It would mean the world that we haven't won a title since 1980. So just bringing it back to the people, it will be pretty amazing. Can't wait.
ROQUAN SMITH: I haven't gotten like people -- people normally just hit me up be, like, can I have a ticket or anything like that. You know, you've got a few extra what would have been this game, hey, if you happened to come across an extra or something like that. But it's not more so, like, can I have this or have that.
Q. Like randomly from the past, randomly showed up this week, hey --
ROQUAN SMITH: No, I haven't really experienced that.
ROQUAN SMITH: I just want both teams to do very well. I want Gurley to have a great game. I want Alec Ogletree to have a great game. And I'd like for the Falcons to play well also.
Q. (Question about the Rose Bowl quick start). How do you think that prepares you for this?
ROQUAN SMITH: We're just going to carry that momentum from that game over into this game. We feel like we played pretty solid in the second half. So we just have to come over in this game and just keep our focus and not get sidetracked about anything.
Q. What do you think about week by week (inaudible) the quarterback and Alabama (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: That's definitely, that's the SEC, though. So we expect that when you're playing here in the SEC. So going up against that type of offense, they want to establish the run early on. And once they establish the run, they want to take play-action shots. So I definitely think it will be a great challenge for our defense, but we're definitely looking forward to it and we think it will be pretty awesome.
ROQUAN SMITH: I think they definitely will be big, but I think it will definitely create a challenge for our defense with our stable of running backs and we're looking forward to it.
Q. (Question about SEC playing in the national championship)?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'm sure everybody feels some type of way about it, but I can't focus on that. We can control only control what we can control, and that's where we are right now. So it is what it is, right?
Q. Do you think the rest of the nation thinks of the SEC as a dominant league?
ROQUAN SMITH: I'm sure some feel it in some type of way, with two playing for the national title. I think maybe they're a little salty about it. I'm not sure. I don't really care much about it.
Q. What's it like when you know you've got linemen on the field, you're rocking them, what's going through your mind as a linebacker, what's it like when you're in your zone?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's just doing whatever it takes to get the job done. If you're making a lot of plays, it's definitely always special. A lineman always like I have to get them the next play. Then once they start pressuring and everything like that, they get out of their game. Once you get out of your game, it's never good.
Q. You're a physical guy. How much of a mental game is it?
ROQUAN SMITH: Just preparing. Knowing my opponent. I try to know my opponent better than they know themselves if we're being honest and what they're about to do and certain situations. So I definitely think that helps you out from the mental side of things.
Q. You are one of the better guys to kid around with. Richard LeCounte, what kind of a guy is he, and a defensive back, what does he bring?
ROQUAN SMITH: I definitely think he's a high-energy guy. Come in to work each and every day and I think he's going to be a special guy here pretty soon.
Q. Kirby Smart comes in here and (inaudible). Trying to teach you guys this defense. Are they showing you any Alabama tape (inaudible) showing stuff like here's Alabama, here's some Alabama?
ROQUAN SMITH: No, they never really just say here's some Alabama film to study and whatnot. But obviously like the defense is very similar and whatnot, but they came on with their own wrinkles and whatnot. And we did just a lot of stuff from just off paper, drawing up on the board and whatnot, and then went on to the field and made some corrections.
Q. When you study the Alabama defense (inaudible) get a glance at Clemson?
ROQUAN SMITH: Definitely as far as some of the calls they're running, definitely we run some of the -- like what I can tell pretty much when they're in a defense. But also having football knowledge and everything like that.
Q. What's been the reaction to the team having the president come in?
ROQUAN SMITH: It's pretty awesome to have the president come to the game. Definitely think it's great.
Q. You say keep the main thing the main thing. But do you remember who said that first? Do you know where you all began that?
ROQUAN SMITH: I don't. I just know Coach Smart has been -- I can remember Coach Smart just saying it like early, early in the year when we were getting -- this year, once we were getting a lot of hype and everything, he was like keep the main thing the main thing.
Q. Marshallville (inaudible)?
ROQUAN SMITH: Macon County but I was born in Marshallville and I went to high school in Montezuma.
ROQUAN SMITH: Just high energy and each and every day we come out to practice. He creates something a little different for us. And we just know what to expect. And he's just a fun guy in general, fun guy to play for. So I'm definitely grateful to be playing for the guy.
ROQUAN SMITH: We used to get that throughout the season, used to have like ice cream, come in here and there. But it's pretty awesome. There's countless other things he used to do to make it pretty special. Cookies and cream.
ROQUAN SMITH: They're just going to run the ball. We feel like they run the ball and we'll definitely be prepared. But we'll definitely be prepared for it. They'll try to establish the run early on and after that we'll definitely get going.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports